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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
NOV
26

Cheryl Strayed in the Cleve

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In all the craziness of last week’s travels, I wasn’t able to mention that Cheryl Strayed was in town. Author of Wild, which I quite enjoyed. Sometimes it’s puzzling to think of an author speaking, because what exactly do they speak about? Their book? Everyone in attendance has read it. Their life? Everyone in attendance knows all about it because we’ve read the book.

Well Cheryl Strayed gave what I can only describe as the perfect remarks. She went into some background and additional detail on both her life and the book, and I could have listened for hours. Her thoughts on writing, particularly on writing memoirs, I found helpful and true, and it’s comforting to know she struggles with some of the same writerly things I do. Like balancing honesty with the part of you that doesn’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Loved hearing about the person who had issue with how they were portrayed in Wild. Loved hearing how she responded, how it made her feel. Loved being in a theater full of people there to support her. Truly, it is the dream.

NOV
23

Road Trip

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I was on the road this week for work, and while I did decide to fly for the longest stretches of the trip, most of the week I was driving. In fact, I feel like that’s all I did. Drive. You have to know me and my relationship with driving to understand how truly significant this is, but after a week of driving all over 4 states I am by and large unfamiliar with, I managed to always get where I was going. Not only without incident, but without so much as a wrong turn. It was unprecedented. And considering one evening found me in the thick of NYC rush-hour traffic, my ultimate goal being Long Island (um, has anyone ever tried driving to Long Island?), actually getting there—and in the dark of night, no less—made me want to fall to the floor of the blessed Marriott that housed me that evening and weep for having arrived in one piece.

Instead I wept when I got home last night. I’m not sure why. Partly because I was exhausted. Because the NYC drive surely took years off my life. Partly because I got to meet up with my Airman brother while on the road, and I’m so incredibly proud of him. Partly because the world is such a beautiful place, and one you can only see close up when you do exactly what I had done—drive. And perhaps partly because I returned to Cleveland full of tales from the road, and the only one here to greet me was my cat.

Since there is no one on hand to listen, I’ll have to tell you, dear readers, that a detour in Maryland took me through the most beautiful patch of land I’ve seen in years. I stopped in the middle of the winding country road just to take it all in. I glanced over my shoulder with a smile as I passed Coney Island and drove across the Verrazano Bridge on the clearest and most beautiful day imaginable. People had pulled off the road and gotten out of their cars just to look out and sigh for a minute before rolling on. And when I crossed the Susquehanna yesterday, I thought about Billy Collins and his poem about fishing in July. Not because I’ve ever fished the Susquehanna, but then again, neither has Billy. In any case, I’m grateful for the trip, grateful to be home, and grateful to now put away the GPS.

NOV
17

Thankful

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My life flashed before my eyes yesterday in hot yoga. Which reminds me--a few words about hot yoga: So. Hot. Granted my barefoot, tank-top-clad self thinks it feels breathtakingly cozy upon first walking in. But within about two minutes I feel grossly overheated. And about halfway through the workout I swear my heart starts palpitating, my body preparing for an imminent end. Having made it out alive yesterday, I felt a renewed appreciation for life, for sweat, for what the body can do while working out in 100 degrees of hotness. Which, incidentally, I should turn into a scandalous trilogy.

In the spirit of gratitude for not keeling over in the middle of downward dog, or maybe it was all these month of November gratitude musings I've seen on facebook, I started thinking of things I was grateful for, and in a moment that had me convinced I was hallucinating, the first thing I thought of was country music. It's like that forest scene on The Proposal where Sandra is asked to chant from the heart, and Ryan Reynolds says, "Balls? That's what came to your heart?" Look, I don't make the rules. And while not a hard core fan of the stuff, what came to my mind was country music. In particular, the Mary Chapin Carpenter album I just found at a used book sale.

See, I was introduced to country music at age 9 by my neighbors who watched CMT. And while I have been a spotty follower of the genre in the majority of the years since, any country song circa about 1992 is near and dear to my heart. Pam Tillis, remember her? How about Suzy Bogguss? Lorrie Morgan? I thought Something in Red was about the most dramatic and mature song I had ever heard. And don't even get me started on Trisha Yearwood's Walkaway Joe. Whoa.

I still like country music, although don't consider it as clutch as it used to be. And I sure wish our little T. Swizzle would re-countrify herself. Still, it's the morning station I listen to every day while getting ready for work, and it's what I most often play on the radio. Maybe it all reminds me of my childhood, of sneaking next door, or hoping my favorite video would be the next one on. For that childhood, and those neighbors, I am grateful. On this day and always. To quote Mary Chapin Carpenter, I feel lucky.

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NOV
12

Snow by Month

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I got home tonight to find that my driveway had been staked. And so it begins. Although technically it began a few weeks ago with the surprise snow that left me without power or heat for a few days (I did not handle it well) and continued today with the first Lake Effect Snow Warning of the season. I took this picture on my way out the door, and for a moment I thought everything was beautiful. Until I stepped on the driveway and realized there was ice under the snow.

As a person living far from the place I call home, I'm asked fairly often if I like living in Cleveland. The truth is that I do enjoy living here, and there's definitely something about its ghetto-ness that inspires fierce loyalty, but the downside of living here is the snow. It will always be the snow. To help myself get through the months and months of awful weather, I've devised this Chart of Optimism:

October snow = This hardly ever happens and if it does it will be like once so don't even worry about it.

November snow = Still nothing consistent on the snow front so don't even worry about it.

December snow = Multiple storms, sometimes back to back, may discourage you, but you'll be on vacation half the month anyway so don't even worry about it.

January snow = You're in the thick of it now, so take a trip to California and don't even worry about it.

February snow = Coming up against record-breaking winter snow totals, you'll wish you had pushed your California trip until now, but you didn't and it's done and you're basically out of vacation time, so there's no point in worrying about it.

March snow = Though storms continue, it's technically spring and you're almost there so don't even worry about it.

April snow = It could happen and might even drop a couple inches on your birthday, but it'll be the last you see of snow for six more months, so don't even worry about it.

I feel better already.

.

NOV
09

The New Website

Just want to say a few words about the new website: I love it.

It's always hard for me to tackle anything having to do with technology and web-speak...which is why I did none of it myself. But even simply describing what I'm looking for can prove challenging for me. Maybe the site, or various aspects of it, are pictured in my head, but describing them is sometimes tricky. The same thing happens when I'm trying to describe my ideas for the overall look of my books and covers. "Not sure what to suggest, but something different." "How about something more vintagey?" Um, sure Tali. Coming right up.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the site and visit often. Even if only for the polls. I once frequented a website that I otherwise found totally useless just so I could vote in the weekly poll. I'm happy to be that site for you, voters.

.

 

 

 

NOV
04

Flee to the Cleve

You know that episode of Friends when Chandler and Monica take Erica on a tour of NYC and Chandler comes back to their apartment all decked out in touristy garb and declares, "New York is awesome!" He explains, "I've been to these places before, but I've never really seen them, you know." Now isn't that always the way.

I had company in town last week, and it gave me the rare opportunity to actually see Cleveland. It's no New York, as I believe I've mentioned pretty much weekly since this blog's inception, but I'm quite fond of it, and there's so much I'd like to be taking better advantage of. I kept thinking how much I was enjoying myself, how much more a person is able to do and see when she doesn't have to be at work. I know, I know, without work I wouldn't be able to afford to DO anything, I'm just saying (once again) how nice it would be to be independently wealthy. Which I will be once I sell about a million more books. Glass half full, people.

Anyway, here are a few shots from my week in the city. The city where I live but rarely see.

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OCT
22

The Shredder

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I have company coming into town this weekend. This is rather momentous, as no one ever has cause to come through Cleveland, so needless to say, my spare room needs a lot of work. Not only is it my writing room, but it's also the dump-anything-you-don't-want-to-hang-up-or-put-away-or-deal-with-right-now room.

Full printed out and marked up drafts of both of my manuscripts were in there, and since it seemed a little weird to just drop them in one of those Shred-It bins (nothing good can come from leaving manuscripts anywhere...isn't that the point of The Words?), I sat down last night to the task of shredding them. Of course, after about twenty minutes of shoving a constant stream of papers through the machine, I started to get sentimental. They were my words. My drafts. All my corrections and edits a smattering of red across each page. It doesn't matter, it won't be worth anything to anyone someday because notoriety is probably not in my cards, but it was enough to make me stop shredding. Well, that, and I had broken the shredder.

Tonight's task: Removing the year+'s worth of People magazines also being kept in the spare room and that need to be recycled. Pretty sure those I can part with.

OCT
19

Yoga: The Aftermath

The tight pants really weren't a big deal, in that I'm sure no one noticed. Except me, who kept looking down at myself and thinking, "Oh my gosh, what am I wearing??"

Overall, I have to say I enjoyed it. It will take some time to get the breathing right, as I had to concentrate so much on the poses themselves that the frequent "inhale up, exhale down" instructions went over my head. Or more likely over my butt, which was pointing proudly toward the ceiling during downward dog. And since a few of the moves stretched me in ways I really fought against being stretched, I can already tell the soreness that awaits me over the next few days will be brutal.

But I think that's good. It made an impact, right? Shook things up. And I'm looking forward to going back and getting better. And getting my mat a little sweaty.

OCT
16

Yoga Shmoga

b2ap3_thumbnail_yoga.jpgOr, more appropriately, How Does Lululemon Get Away With Charging So Much? It's a question for the ages. I didn't even know the store existed until a friend of mine convinced me I should try yoga. I'd always been turned off by how not exercisey yoga seems, not to mention the whole spiritual aspect, which, when it comes to anything in the exercise realm, just seems like mumbo jumbo and completely out of place.

Then she sent me to Lululemon to get suited up. It's worth noting that because they are in the same complex, I had dropped by Tiffany & Co. just prior to Lulu. I don't make a habit of buying expensive baubles (wait...yes I do), but I'd just survived a heart-wrenching breakup, and if that doesn't deserve a treat, I'm not sure what does. Anyway, imagine my surpreeze when my ONE OUTFIT and mat from Lululemon ended up costing the same amount as my Tiffany necklace. THE SAME AMOUNT. And to think I had initially planned on buying two outfits. Aw naw.

And as long as we're talking about the outfits, let's talk about how tight they are. I prefer working out in basketball shorts and a t-shirt. And when I see women walking around wearing yoga pants in their normal lives, I feel like I must be hallucinating. Or that maybe they are. From lack of circulation. In any case, if any of you are on hand for my first yoga class this weekend, I'll be the one in the back corner trying to shield the contours of my butt from being seen by the general public. I'll let you know how it goes.

 

OCT
14

You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone

My neighbors recently had the huge tree that grew in their front yard cut down. This was as shocking as it was devastating to me. Like the day I got home from work to find the city had cut down all the trees lining the street in order to prep for a construction project. All. The. Trees. Gutted I was.

But my neighbors' tree? Losing it was like losing a limb. (I apologize to anyone who has lost a limb for the inaccurate and totally insensitive use of this simile.) Because it may as well have been my tree. In my yard. Covering my house. Because it did. It covered my house as well as theirs. In the days after the Awful Thing, I felt lost in my own driveway. The sun beat down directly on the house because there was nothing to shade it. I felt so exposed, and totally without bearings.

I guess all I meant to say today is that it's now fall, and there should be leaves for me to rake. The leaves I've raked for years. When I asked the neighbor why he had done this Awful Thing, he tried to cheer me up by saying I would no longer have to rake the leaves. Consolation, my ass. I loved those leaves. And I loved raking those leaves. It was cathartic and manual and somehow gratifying to see the mounds of leaves eventually end up in a big pile at the end of the yard. To me, that was fall. And I miss it.

OCT
09

J. Alfred

If you've read The History of Love, you'll recall the story about the age of glass, where everyone believed a part of himself to be extremely fragile. The book tells the story of a young man who fell in love but every time he kissed the girl and his knees began to shake, he worried that a part of him would shatter. One night to protect himself he pulls back and leans away, the girl feels hurt, and in the course of explaining ("Part of me is made of glass."), he only makes it worse. Later, he couldn't shake this regret: "That in the most important moment of his life he had chosen the wrong sentence."

This line haunts me. Because it's so beautifully accurate. And also because there are few things more punishing than regret. I have experienced this regret myself...wondered if a certain situation may have turned out differently had I not said a line I'd been rehearsing for just such a moment but rather said what actually came to me in the moment itself. Sometimes I think I've done too much planning and preparing and not enough living.

Which got me thinking about Prufrock. Because how much does my History of Love story sound like this stanza:

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,                                             90
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say, "That is not what I meant at all.
  That is not it, at all."

Or this one:

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,                                           100
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  "That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all."

Yes, sometimes it is impossible to say just what we mean, and even after we try, it is often not what we meant. That is not what I meant, at all. Perhaps it's inevitable though. We're destined to see our greatness flicker, to shatter our own selves in the quest to remain whole. Oh my gosh, what am I saying? Look what poetry does to people. Let me slap myself upside the head and leave you with this parting thought: Eat that peach, J. Part that hair behind.

OCT
06

Mayfield Library

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This is just to say that I so enjoyed participating in the Mayfield Library's author fair yesterday. I was so impressed by the turnout...most people who stopped by my booth mentioned they had a hard time finding parking. I'm also impressed by how many local authors there are in the area. I've done numerous events and met several of them, but never have I seen so many under one roof. It's nice to be among people who are all going through variations of the same process...and in most cases the same struggle of anonymity in a business where it's tough to be completely unknown.

I was also grateful for the friends and colleagues who braved the rainy afternoon (and the crowded parking lot) to stop by and see me, buy a book, or get their copy signed. It always means so much to feel supported.

And I have a soft spot for selling books to people I don't know when in these fair/event circumstances...it's always flattering when they pick my book to buy, because I know it has nothing to do with them knowing me already. It's like when the flight attendant or pilot announces over the intercom upon landing that they realize people have a choice of airlines, and that they're consequently grateful for our business. I feel that way about people who buy my book. Happy, and so, so appreciative.

OCT
03

I know what you read last summer

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Pretty sure I've mentioned before my obsession with People magazine, and one of my favorite things they do are those "books you should read for [insert whatever season it is]" features. It isn't so much reading the reviews of the books, but I love the picture that accompanies the whole thing...it will have all the books stacked. For some reason I just love looking at all those book spines in a row; love getting a glimpse about what the actual books themselves look like.

So here is my version, except instead of "books you should read for summer," mine is really a "books I did read this summer" stack. I've talked about all of them except the last 3, so let me just briefly say that The History of Love was creative and endearing and definitely worth reading (if not somewhat confusing to keep track of all the different story lines), Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me was absolutely hilarious and I liked it way more than Tina Fey's, and The Fault in Our Stars was a good effort on what turns out to be very intense subject matter, but I just can't get into YA anymore.

My total for the family summer reading competition was 2024 pages, (earning me $20.24). I beat my sister but not my Mom, but I don't know if anyone's ever beaten Mom. In any case, there were some good reads in that pile. And now it's fall, which means I'll have to see what People magazine says I should be reading. Those book spines are calling my name.

OCT
02

Word Vomit

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Remember Mean Girls? Of course you remember Mean Girls. It was a clever, smartly-done movie...and pretty much anything Tina Fey gets behind is hilarious. LL is probably my least favorite thing about the movie, but remember the scene where she talks about word vomit? About how sometimes things we shouldn't say just come out, and once we're saying them we can't stop ourselves even if we know we should?

Well, in a situation and place where I really should not have let it happen, I had a word vomit experience this week. And it's always amazing to me when I'm in one of those moments. Because it's like I become two people and can clearly see both sides. One side justifying my behavior by the injustice of the circumstances that have brought me to a breaking point, and the other side horrified that I have completely lost my cool. So there I was the other day, spewing forth my anger and frustration (both too voluminously and too honestly) and the whole time I was thinking, Why don't I shut up?, Why am I saying all this? I can't believe that I am saying all this. This is so making it worse, but why am I not shutting up?

I won't blame biology, at least not entirely (although let's definitely circle back to THAT topic sometime), but I knew as soon as I was asked to express my opinion on the subject in question that I would lose it. And I did try to get out of it. I initially refused to speak. Only when pressed (I really want to know what you think, Tali) did I acquiesce. I'm sure said asker instantly regretted it, just like I regretted my response. Sigh. It's moments like those when I think, what would Tina do?

SEP
28

I finally did it.

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I joined.

SEP
24

Emerald City

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This was taken on top of the Space Needle and is obviously a horrible picture. Can you say city bangs? I can. Why am I even sharing this picture? I am disgusting.

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I feel much better about my appearance in this picture, but you would have no idea I'm in Seattle. Unless you're familiar with Chihuly and his glass and garden exhibit. Which I wasn't. Until going to the Chihuly glass and garden exhibit. In any case, I've been enjoying Seattle and loving the chilly weather and the homeless people and the utter greenness to behold.

Since trips mean planes and planes mean reading on planes, I'll have a few books to report on soon, and I also got the first round layout options back for the interior of book 2, so looking them over will be on top of my to-do list when I get back to the Cleve. So will getting my bangs trimmed.

SEP
18

Holding Out

The first winter I was in Cleveland, I let the temperature in my house get down to 58 degrees before I turned on the heat. But it was September. So close to the heels of summer, I couldn't stomach the thought of turning on the heat. Five years later, I'm less tolerant of being cold when at home, but I still try to postpone the heat as long as I can. If I make it until October, I'm happy.

Yesterday morning when I was leaving for work, it was 43 degrees outside. Not exactly balmy. But I've got plenty of cushion room before I even think about turning on the heat. It's still 64 degrees inside. We'll see how long I last.

SEP
15

Hopes and Dreams

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I snapped this pic over the weekend because wishes greatly exacerbate my sentimentality. There's just something about wishes. They're personal, oftentimes they're private, and they represent what we hope for most in our lives. In the professional world, "Hope is not a strategy" has been beaten into my head, and probably for good reason. Hope gets nothing done, it doesn't bring results. But wishes are a different animal, and many times the things we wish/hope for are things we don't have the ability to bring about in any way; things on which we cannot necessarily affect change. And in these instances, hope is perhaps the only strategy we've got.

When in NYC a couple of months ago, I went to the Times Square museum. From the replica of the New Year's Eve ball to the relics and costumes from various Broadway shows, it's a colorful place. But the most striking thing in there (honestly it looks like the beginnings of a parade float) is the Hopes and Dreams wall. It's little squares of confetti paper stuck to the wall, each bearing a handwritten wish from someone who's come through. The best part about these confetti squares is they are what gets shot into the air on New Year's Eve when the clock strikes twelve. All that confetti you see sailing through the air on TV? It's people's wishes, and something about that made me clutch a hand to my heart and steady myself just to absorb the impact to my sentimentality scale.

Of course I wrote down a wish, something I will never get, something not even hope can bring me, but I'm one of those dewey-eyed dopes who believes it's important--even if you know you'll never get what you want--for the universe to know how you'd like things to go if it were up to you. Silly, I know. Pointless, I know. But still. When my wish sails through the sky at the moment the new year begins, I hope it settles near the feet of someone who reads it and hopes that I got my wish.

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SEP
11

Today

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I remember.

SEP
09

Instagrammy

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I set up an account over the weekend. Maybe I was jealous of all the instagrammy goodness going on out there...all my friends' square-shaped pics that flood my newsfeed. So here I am, a new account holder. Ready to take pictures of...I have absolutely no idea what. Especially after my recent epiphany about chronicling. I guess we'll just see what I can come up with. Hopefully more than just the funny things my cat does. (Although for the record, she's thrilled about potentially being featured. She's still glowing from the recent Monopoly game piece addition.)